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The Theme of Blood in Shakespeares Macbeth.

  • Date Submitted: 08/14/2010 05:48 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 75.4 
  • Words: 812
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In the play "Macbeth", a symbol of blood is portrayed often
(and with different meanings), and developed until it is
the dominating theme of the play. The word "blood", or
different forms of it, occurs forty-two times and the word
fear is used forty-two times. The symbol of blood changes
throughout the play, as Macbeth's character changes. First
he is a brave honoured soldier, but as the play progresses,
he becomes a treacherous person who has become identified
with death and bloodshed and shows his guilt in different

The first reference of blood is one of honour, and occurs
when Duncan sees the injured sergeant and says "What bloody
man is that?". This is symbolic of the brave fighter who
been injured in a valiant battle for his country. In the
next passage, in which the sergeant says "Which smok'd with
bloody execution", he is referring to Macbeth's braveness
in which his sword is covered in the hot blood of the enemy.

After these few references to honour, the symbol of blood
now changes to show a theme of treachery and treason. Lady
Macbeth starts this off when she asks the spirits to "make
thick my blood,". What she is saying by this, is that she
wants to make herself insensitive and remorseless for the
deeds which she is about to commit. Lady Macbeth knows that
the evidence of blood is a treacherous symbol, and knows it
will deflect the guilt from her and Macbeth to the servants
when she says "smear the sleepy grooms with blood.", and
"If he do bleed, I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal,
for it must seem their guilt." When Banquo states "and
question this most bloody piece of work," and Ross says
"is't known who did this more than bloody deed?", they are
both inquiring as to who performed the treacherous acts
upon Duncan. When Macbeth is speaking about Malcolm and
Donalbain, he refers to them as "bloody cousins"

A final way, and perhaps the most vivid use of the symbol
blood, is with the theme of guilt....


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